Poles intercept tortoise shipment

WARSAW, Poland - Polish customs at the Ukrainian border yesterday found 121 Central Asian tortoises, a threatened species, bound so tightly in black tape that their heads could barely squeeze out from their shells.

Customs spokeswoman Malgorzata Eisenberger said officers arrested a 34-year-old Ukrainian man allegedly attempting to cross the border with the animals. The 121 tortoises were destined for markets in Poland where they sell for about $60 to people who generally want them as pets.

Eisenberger said a customs sniffer dog discovered the tortoises stacked in a converted gasoline tank of the suspect's car. They will be given to a zoo, she said. The suspect could face up to five years in prison if convicted of trafficking in exotic species.

The Central Asian tortoise is listed as vulnerable on the list of threatened species produced by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

- AP

Britons get jail for Dubai adultery

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - A British couple were convicted of adultery in Dubai and given two months in jail yesterday, several months after a separate British couple were sentenced to prison for having sex on a beach in this glitzy Gulf sheikhdom.

The cases highlight the conservative legal code that governs Dubai, a city-state that has advertised itself as a tourist and business mecca in the heart of the Middle East. It caters heavily to Western tastes and lifestyles, but its legal code is based on Islamic laws and tribal rules.

Sally Antia, a mother of two, and her lover, Mark Hawkins, were arrested May 2 after leaving a Dubai luxury hotel in the early-morning hours, according to court documents. Antia's husband, Vince, alerted the police to his wife's infidelity.

- AP

Hezbollah official extends a hand

BEIRUT - Hezbollah's No. 2 leader, confident of victory in Lebanese weekend elections, said yesterday that the Iranian-backed group would invite its pro-Western opponents to join a national unity government if it wins.

Sheikh Naim Kassem rejected accusations that a government of Hezbollah and its allies would try to implement an Iranian-style Islamic state. In an interview, he shrugged off warnings about boycotts and insisted that Western nations were willing to talk to the new government irrespective of who wins.

The unity-government proposal shows Hezbollah's concern that if it tries to govern Lebanon outright, it could risk international isolation and possibly a war with Israel. Vice President Biden, on a visit to Lebanon last month, warned that Washington would reassess aid to Lebanon depending on the next government.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A detective at the Santiago, Chile, airport said yesterday that two suitcases carried by a 26-year-old woman who was about to fly to Spain were made of cocaine. Leandro Morales said that the suitcases were made of a substance combining cocaine with resin and glass fiber, and that a "chemical process" could separate out the drug.

Mauritania's rival factions have agreed to postpone Saturday's scheduled presidential election until July 18, officials said yesterday. Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio announced the agreement after days of intense negotiations in a bid to include opposition parties that had refused to take part in the junta-organized vote.